Today’s post comes from guest blogger, Jared Renaud Taylor, author of New Lenses: How I Met Jesus on MTV. Pick up a copy if you are interested in a lens that will help you see Jesus everywhere. If you are interested in Bible study you can find him at Water for the Thirsty, as well as at Restoration Praise Center Seventh-day Adventist church, where he is an associate pastor. Jared’s rendering of the #Darkroom left me speechless because it feels like a page from my book. I hope you enjoy his articulation of a room we all end up in at some point.
I only know a little about darkrooms. I am not one hundred percent clear on what makes them necessary or what dangers are presented in other environments that cause them to be important.
However, I do know that for developing film and producing pictures on that material, darkrooms are important. Without them, experiences and moments captured on the material are not tangibly preserved and shared. Without the darkroom and proper handling in the darkroom, film used to tell stories and memorialize moments of significance becomes unprofitable.
When I returned to the United States in 2004, God made it abundantly clear that He had plans to use the details of my life experiences like film, to capture and preserve elements of His character to be shared with the world.
He declared loudly and forcefully that I was going to be a walking billboard for Him. The things I would experience and face and my response to them, were meant to be snapshots, which reinforce what the Word already said about Him.
At first, I was cool with it, an eager beaver, ready to be used and be on display. What I didn’t anticipate was the process. Strike that, what I didn’t expect was the darkroom.
I didn’t realize that God didn’t have a Polaroid camera; neither was He into digital media. He’s old fashioned like that, preferring to be hands on and intimately involved. Time is not an issue for Him. The process and His active involvement in creating the image are.
While the image has to serve as a lasting testament of His character, He has equal, if not greater, concern for the material used in the display. As I understand it, that’s why the darkroom matters. The material requires it to fully realize it’s potential.
For me, the period between 2004 and 2015 could be described as the photo shoot period: lighting, sets, wardrobe, make-up, poses, scenery, takes and retakes. When I finally decided to submit to the Lordship of Christ and answer the call to full-time ministry as a Pastor, I was escorted into the darkroom where I spent the next two and half years.
There were a number of deep-seated character issues that required time in the darkroom to remedy. Issues related to desire and appetite of every kind. I didn’t think much of them until they surfaced in the darkroom, catching me completely by surprise.
They didn’t go quietly or quickly, but I was able to realize the true nature of my heart and become intentional about guarding it and submitting it to the Lord. I also had to process through my relationship with men in authority learning to trust their judgment and God’s leading.
In June 2017, I thought I was done. I thought it was time to go on display, and I thought I was ready. I had my bags packed, ready to be framed and placed in the exhibit. But God said…”Hold on, not yet.”
Like a tenant living on a month-to-month lease, uncertain when “liberation” would occur, I lived out of an emotional suitcase for almost a year. This, for me, was the darkest part of the darkroom experience.
I was already committed to the path and it seemed disingenuous to walk away. However, being in what felt like limbo or situational purgatory was extremely frustrating. I really just wanted God to say, “Let’s go” or “The trip is off”.
I just needed Him to say something so I could move on with my life. I was okay with not being elevated. I was not okay with sitting indefinitely.
It was in this stretch that God reminded me of my need to be transparent and vulnerable. That the image He wished to present is of Him through me. He wasn’t clearly visible yet. There was still a significant part of me that needed to die and recognize how badly I needed Him to make and maintain this transition. In addition, His hand in this transition wasn’t yet without question. A cloud of doubt about who was responsible for this move still lingered.
God ended this stint in the dark room in May 2018, just when I no longer felt ready and confident in me. It was when my posture became that of a kid, willing to go on stage only if his daddy goes with him, holding his hand, that He said: “It’s time!”
He firmly established His hand in the process and there was no doubt about who was being seen. Yes, I was the film, but the picture that everyone saw was of Him. His image had always been there, but it was not easily discernible.
It was in the darkroom that it became distinct. It was there I was transformed from a shiny piece of paper into an instrument that conspicuously reveals His glory! I am still ignorant of the operational details, but eternally grateful for the darkroom.